Posts Tagged ‘Two Michelin Stars’

Pineapple and Pearls: “In the People Business”

Posted 18 Dec 2016 — by S.E.
Category Fine Dining, Full Service

Chef Aaron Silverman’s team centered philosophy is primary cause for why I rearranged my schedule to include a dinner at his restaurant Pineapple and Pearls in the Barracks Row neighborhood just north of the Navy Yard in Washington DC. Though I did notice the two-star nod the Guide Michelin gave Pineapple and Pearls back in October, Silverman’s December 2015 TedEx talk 2015 is what really caught my attention. His heartfelt presentation centered on the connection between building and maintaining an outstanding team and achieving overall greatness. I couldn’t agree more with his perspective and I had to see for myself.

His first restaurant Rose’s Luxury won best new restaurant recognition by both Bon Appetit and GQ magazines in 2014. The restaurant was a game changer for the local restaurant scene and for the Silverman himself. Its customer centered casual feel paired with incredible – approachable food drew rave reviews and a steady stream of guests willing to cue up on the sidewalk in order to score a table upon opening. But behind the scenes Silverman focused on creating an environment and culture that would draw in the best talent. An environment where people want to work and that employees look forward to being part of.

My experience at Pineapple and Pearls provided deep evidence Silverman’s approach is working. It was illuminated by steady warmth and hospitality on a freezing December night. His team exceeded my expectation from start to finish and though the food was outstanding (the sturgeon rose was sublime) the service and beverage program was even better. Beverage director Jeff Faile has crafted an incredible program and one of the finest pairings I have had. We spent 20 minutes chatting in the kitchen after my experience (I sat at the bar for service). His approach is straight forward; he seeks great products that align perfectly with each dish on the tasting menu and he doesn’t leave non-alcoholic options as an afterthought. The non-alcoholic offerings were compelling, complex, and perfectly paired. Not an easy task. The Paliokerisio wine from Greece (grape varietals white Debina and red Vlahiko) was a favorite as was the alcohol free Jörg Geiger PriSecco sparkling cider made just east of Stuttgart in Germany. This is the kind of talent Silverman is attracting. What a great role model and example.

When a leader builds an authentic and engaging culture of excellence the impact of all involved is significantly amplified and Silverman has clearly figured this out. 2016 has been good to him – his recognition by Michelin was preceded by a Best Chef Mid Atlantic award by the James Beard Foundation. This is tangible evidence that leadership matters. Silverman ends his TedEx talk stating: “I’m in the people industry – it just so happens that I work at a restaurant.”  If people are his product – he should have three stars instead of two!

Fennel Absinthe Bonbon

Crispy Yuba, Cured Trout Roe, Garden Herbs

Beef Tar Tar, Caviar (retired dairy cow loin)

Sweet Shrimp, Ajo Blanco (almond gazpacho), Mixed Grapes, Cilantro

Sturgeon Rose, White Beets, Matsutake

Mustard Green Agnolotti, Parmesan, Greyson and Ricotta Cheese, Huitaloche, Mustard, Mushroom Kombocha Squash Gastrique

Atlantic Cod, Fall Vegetables, Pigs Head Terrine, Crispy Garlic, Garlic Fumet

Beef Loin Presentation –

Homage to DC Steakhouse – Dry Aged Rib Eye, Béarnaise, Truffle Pepper Cream, Popovers with Wild Mushrooms, Potato Onion Tart

Cheese Presentation

Warm Greyson Cheese, Purple Sweet Potato Brioche, Pawpaw Butter

Satsuma, Labneh Sorbet, Hibiscus & Whey Soda

Granny Smith Apple Crostata, Sundae Bar of Dark Chocolate, Tarragon, Olive Oil Sorbets, Lemon Glaze, Toasted Coconut

Cookies – Sesame Fortune Cookie, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough with Red Walnut, Snickerdoodle

Coffee and Pistachio Shortbread Afterwards

Pineapple and Pearls

715 8th Street SE, Washington, DC

Manresa Restaurant: Los Gatos, CA

Posted 11 Jan 2011 — by S.E.
Category Fine Dining

Sometimes, when visiting a well known restaurant for the first time, it’s nice to spend a day or two in the community where the establishment is located prior to dining. Doing so allows me to get a sense of things at ground level. Great restaurants reflect their surroundings and weave local ingredients and influence with global flavor profiles and, more than ever, contemporary cooking techniques. My deep love of culinary arts is based, in part, on these factors and the way a great restaurant anchors, and is anchored by its community.  Manresa is such a restaurant and Los Gatos is proud to claim it.

Walking around Los Gatos California in winter, it’s sunny and temperate. People are out strolling the streets, making eye contact, pausing to chat. The community has a casual yet upscale feel to it with brand name shops mixed in with independent retailers. I pause for a moment at the Los Gatos Coffee Roasting Company for a fresh cup and sit at a table in the large bay window to watch the world go by. Refreshed, I exit left down the street and discover the Sierra Toy Soldier Company. Sierra produces battle scenes in miniature using a variety of toy soldiers and scaled down military hardware and shows them in the front window of the store. Each displays look like a custom movie set. Los Gatos is both main-stream and unique, approachable but extremely local. It feels nice to be here.


Dinnertime is nearing and I walk over to the restaurant to check things out. Manresa is located on Village Lane, one block over from Santa Cruz Avenue. At first I walk past the restaurant entrance and up the street a few steps before realizing that the small brick ranch style home on my right is actually Manresa. Standing in front of the walkway leading to the front door I am surprised that this single story building is the home to such a great restaurant.  The small understated aluminum and steel sign placed on a steel post in front of the restaurant caught my eye just before I passed otherwise I would have missed the restaurant and kept walking. My first impression is that Manresa is small and understated. The grounds leading to the entrance are well kept with tall plants, grasses in pots, paved walk ways and a long window that runs from the left hand side of the entry to the end of the building. I wonder if space on the other side of the window was the living room of a private residence at one point in time.  

Entering the restaurant, I am surprised at the size of the dining room; it’s much larger than I expected.   There’s room for at least fifty guests in the main dining room and a private room in the back seats at least sixteen guests. The floor is tinted concrete softened with carefully placed carpets. After a quick tour I settle in to a two top along the window.

Chef David Kinch, a professional chef to his core, is easy to admire. After graduating from the culinary arts degree program at Johnson & Wales University in Providence Rhode Island in 1983 he spent the next decade refining his skills working at renowned restaurants around the world including the Quilted Giraffe in New York, the Hotel Clio Court in Fukuoka Japan, the Michelin two-star Schweizer Stuben in Wertheim, Germany, the three star L’Esperance in St. Pere-sous-Vezeley, France with Chef Marc Meneau and Pedro Subijana’s Michelin two-star Akelare in San Sebastian, Spain. Kinch, a New Orleans native who worked with Paul Prudhomme when he was chef at Commanders, opened Manresa in 2002 and has held two Michelin stars since 2006. In 2010 he was awarded best chef pacific region by the James Beard Foundation. Chef Kinch is, without question, one of the best, most influential chefs in the country and a master of the culinary arts.


The best way to describe the food at Manresa is modern American with tremendous French and Spanish influence and a solid undertone of Japanese flavor and technique. Kinch’s background, global travels, and professional lineage are reflected in his cuisine. The menu features dishes that are authentically local and driven by the daily harvest of Love Apple Farm just outside of Los Gatos. The influence of Love Apple Farm and the biodynamic vegetables it produces isn’t just symbolic, it’s authentic.  Kinch has designed his culinary system at Manresa around the cycle of food stuffs coming from the farm. The impact on the menu is fantastic. Each of the images below convey what amounted to an incredible meal at Manresa. Considering the quality of the ingredients, particularly the products from Love Apple Farm, the additional courses served, and the excellent preparation and service, Manresa is an outstanding restaurant and a great value.

Amuse Bouche Soft Boiled Egg with Maple Syrup and Sherry Vinegar


Amuse Bouche Fresh Oyster in Gelee with Julienne Nori

 Monterey Bay Abalone and Braised Pig Trotters, Avocado Mousseline

In the Vegetable Garden with Chanterelle Mushrooms, Sun Choke Puree, Celery Root

Japanese Butterfish roasted slowly with Chanterelles, Yuzu Sabayon and Baby Leeks

Black Cod on the Plancha with Salsify, Black Trumpet Mushrooms with Oyster Emulsion

 Breast of Duck and Leg Confit, Hazelnut Praline and Celtuce, Dates with Wild Fennel


Slow Roasted Rack of Veal Tonnato, Cabbage with Sweet Onion and Porcini Fritter

Pears and Pumpkin Cake with Speculass Ice Cream, Moscato Jelly, Prunes, Dates, Molasses, Pecans


320 Village Ln
Los Gatos, California 95030
(408) 354-4330